“What do you mean Blackavar and the kittens are gone?! Hazel shouted rushing past Bigwig to Blackavar and Mist’s burrow. He stopped in front of the burrow looking inside. There was no Blackavar and no kittens.
“I thought I said to put Owsla at Blackavar and Mist’s burrow?!” Hazel shouted at one of his Captains of Owsla.
“I was busy rounding up my Owsla. They still haven’t been given the orders you asked me to give them Hazel.”
“Where in Frith are they? What the hell was Blackavar thinking?”
“There’s only two things he would do Hazel,” Fiver said as his brother and Bigwig spun to look at him.
“What would that be old chap?” Bigwig asked the seer.
“Either gone after Blizzard and the rabbits who stole Thorn which I don’t think is likely as he wouldn’t put his kittens in danger or find Woundwort’s warren and go see Mist.”
“Hazel!” Dandelion called.
Hazel sighed. “We need to figure out where Blackavar disappeared with his kittens. Maybe… Fiver do you think you could contact Prince Rainbow?”
Fiver looked shocked but shook his head warily. “I don’t know Hazel. But I suppose I could try.”
“Well do it. We can’t have Blackavar doing something foolish.”
Hazel ran up the run to the Honeycomb where Dandelion was. “What is it Dandelion?”
“Groundsel and Campion have arrived.”
After hearing the attack on Watership Down by a rabbit named Blizzard from their respective warrens Campion had run to Vleflain with some of his Owsla and met Groundsel. They had agreed that they needed to speak to Hazel and see if they could offer their assistance in any way to the third warren of their alliance. Groundsel, Campion and some members of both the Efrafan and Vleflain Owsla had immediately set off for Watership Down and arrived just while the Watership rabbits were enjoying afternoon silflay. Yet Groundsel and Campion noticed that the Watershipers were staying closer to the burrows than they would normally have done and the Owsla was positioned around the beech tree that stood over the warren.
Groundsel and Campion allowed their rabbits to eat and then to help the Watershipers stand guard around the warren while they talked to Hazel. Seeing Dandelion Campion asked for Hazel and Dandelion had left them before underground to notify Hazel of the Efrafan and Vleflain chiefs’ arrival. Hazel came up and asked them to follow him to the Honeycomb.
“Hazel we heard what happened from our rabbits and came here to see if you needed help with anything,” Campion said while Groundsel nodded in agreement.
Hazel sighed. “I’m afraid we have a problem. Blackavar is missing as are his kittens. Fiver thinks Blackavar is trying to get to Mist who went to Sunstone.”
“Those rabbits the three warrens were attacking before Blizzard changed?” Groundsel asked the Watership Down chief.
“Yes. Prince Rainbow blocked a few of the rabbits from running after them and then they just vanished.”
“If Prince Rainbow helped those rabbits then he must have a reason,” Groundsel said.
“I guess we just trust in Prince Rainbow,” Hazel said. “We managed to fix our warren. Lucky whatever Blizzard used doesn’t seem to have destroyed the warren internally. Some of the burrows did cave in so we had to redo those burrows. But everything else seems fine.”
“What happened Hazel with this Blizzard fellow?”
“From what he said he was a rabbit of our old warren Sandleford. Apparently he had been poisoned by the gas man pumped into the warren but managed to escape the warren and man and met up with Captain Holly, Bluebell, Toadflax and Pimpernel. Toadflax had also gotten too much poison and he died that night. Holly, Bluebell Pimpernel and Blizzard continued on but a badger jumped Blizzard and tore into his leg. Holly, Bluebell and Pimpernel ran away from the badger. Holly said they were concerned that if they took Blizzard with them then he would attract elil from them and they figured he was a goner anyway due the ingestion of poison.
“We don’t know how Blizzard survived all those months or how he even managed to find Watership Down. Fiver was having a vision of a rabbit and we got word from Sunset that a rabbit was being barred from entering Watership Down by Silver and Buckthorn. By that time Fiver had recovered from his vision and Sunset, Fiver, Bigwig, Holly and myself went above ground and saw Blizzard who started ranting that Fiver and I were the ones responsible for the death of Sandleford.”
Campion and Groundsel shook their heads. “That’s ridiculous. No rabbit is responsible for what man does. Man only seeks to destroy all he touches. Sandleford was most likely destroyed because man thought you were in their way of whatever man wanted. No rabbit can predict that. Not even seers,” Campion said.
“Holly admitted that he knew Blizzard and Blizzard went insane saying Watership Down was going to pay for the destruction of Sandleford and leaving him to a badger. Then Woundwort came…”
“Woundwort!” Groundsel shouted in fear.
“Do you mean he’s alive Hazel?” Campion asked.
“Yes apparently he is and he has a new warren.”
“This is bad. The General won’t forgive us for allying with Watership Down and he’ll probably kill me for becoming chief of Efrafa.”
“Woundwort has changed Campion-rah and Groundsel-rah. You have nothing to fear from Woundwort. The threat to all four warrens is Blizzard and his rabbits,” Prince Rainbow said appearing before the three chiefs.
“Who is this Hazel?”
“I’m Prince Rainbow Campion. You have nothing to fear from me. I am here to help.”
“Prince Rainbow where is Blackavar and his kittens?” Hazel asked.
“Foolish Blackavar and his kittens are two miles from Watership Down. Blackavar means to go to Sunstone and find Mist.”
“What’s Sunstone?” Groundsel asked.
“Woundwort’s warren,” Hazel said.
“He’s Lightstone now. No longer evil thus no longer Woundwort.”
“We’ll have to catch Blackavar and his kittens before anything happens to them. Blackavar is no shape to be traveling.”
“I think he’ll be alright as long as he can see Mist.” Prince Rainbow sighed. “Send your rabbits after the kittens and I’ll take Blackavar to Sunstone and then bring him back to Watership Down.” Prince Rainbow chuckled to himself. “Mist will probably scold him for doing something so foolish as to put their kittens in danger.” Laughing he vanished in a flash of purple light.
Mist slowly opened her eyes and looked around her. A silver rabbit with a red streak of fur between her ears was pressing some herbs into a paste and turned as Mist stirred. “Ah you’re awake dear. Lightstone-rah asked that I take care of you until you are better.”
“Where am I?”
The black rabbit smiled. “You’re at Sunstone my dear. My name is Snowberry and I’m Sunstone’s healer. According to the Owsla member who brought you to my burrow he said that Prince Rainbow asked Lighstone-rah to bring you here to be taken care of until you are well enough to go home to Watership Down.” Snowberry carried the paste over to Mist and began spreading it on her wounds.
“Lightstone-rah and the Owsla say that after three warrens attacked him and his rabbits this other rabbit attacked everybody. He took the hit for some rabbit named Holly and was knocked out for the remainder of the battle. He’s interrogating the Owsla that was with him about what happened right now. But the Owsla member who brought you here said that this strange rabbit killed some rabbits of Watership Down and then the dead rabbits came back to life only their fur and eyes had changed…” Snowberry shivered despite the fact that it wasn’t cold in Sunstone. “I guess this rabbit ordered one of the dead rabbits to go find him a successor and he took one of your kittens and then the entire group vanished. Lightstone-rah came too then and a couple of rabbits tried attacking him but Prince Rainbow helped Lightstone and the Sunstone Owsla escape and brought them along with you back here.”
“When can I leave and go home?”
“You’re not going anywhere until I can heal these injuries that were inflicted on you.”
The Sunstone Owsla sat before Lightstone and listened while their chief questioned them about the events on Watership Down.
“So this strange rabbit was supposedly from Sandleford?” Lightstone asked Burdock.
“Yes Lightstone-rah. That’s what Holly and the other Watershipers said. This rabbit killed a bunch of rabbits and then his fur changed. The dead rabbits came back to life and their fur had changed as well.”
“What else happened?” Lightstone asked.
“Well sir once these dead rabbits were changed and had come back to life they gathered around this Blizzard fellow and he told one of them to go underground and find him a successor. A few moments later the rabbit that had gone done underground came back up with a kitten in his mouth. A chocolate rabbit with scars on his body tried attacking the rabbit that held the kitten so…”
“Chocolate rabbit with scars?” Lightstone frowned as he tried to remember who that rabbit was. “That must have been Blackavar. He was an Efrafan prisoner who was punished for trying to flee Efrafa when I ruled. Continue Burdock.”
“Yes sir. Blackavar ran at the rabbit that had the kitten, we’re assuming it must have been Blackavar’s and another of these changed rabbits bit him in the shoulder and then threw him into the tree overlooking the warren and Blackavar broke his leg. Then the changed rabbits took the poor kitten and left. None of us could follow.”
“Why were you all surrounding me and attacking two of the rabbits?”
“They tried attacking you while you lay unconscious on the ground. That’s why Frost and Odin attacked those two rabbits. Those rabbits from the three warrens were trying to kill you Lightstone!” Twinleaf said to his friend and chief and the other rabbits nodded their heads in agreement.
“Prince Rainbow helped us get away. He said the other two warrens were Efrafa and some warren called Vleflain.”
“I see. Well we should be protected from Blizzard as long as we stay inside Sunstone. Thank you all for helping me.”
“It’s what an Owsla does Lightstone-rah,” Burdock said.
“We will defend Sunstone, Harmony and you with our lives,” Fern said and the other rabbits stamped in applause.
“Go above ground and silflay or go to sleep. I’m going to go check on our guest.”
The rabbits dispersed, some to go check on their does and get some sleep while others went above ground to feed.
Back at Watership Down Hazel was still talking to Campion and Groundsel. “I ordered Hyzenthlay to gather the does and kittens into the deeper burrows of the warren so they can escape and start a new warren somewhere else far away from here if Blizzard comes back. I think it might be a good idea if Efrafa and Vleflain do the same. That way if we die than our does and kittens live on and can start a new warren. Of course that decision is up to both of you.”
Groundsel and Campion looked at each other. “I think you’re right Hazel. Our warrens need to live on,” Campion said.
“It might be a good idea to dig an underground run linking all three warrens together so if it becomes necessary then they can all meet up underground somewhere and start a new life somewhere else while we try to hold off Blizzard and his rabbits.”
“Right. We’d better get started. Good day Hazel and we’re sorry for the way our rabbit behaved,” Campion said.
“They’ve already been disciplined for their actions,” Groundsel said.
The two chiefs turned and ran back up the run before calling their respective Owsla and vanished down the hill and into the horizon.
Prince Rainbow ran to where Blackavar and his kittens were in an abandoned badger den. “Blackavar I told you that you were NOT to leave Watership Down.”
“I have to see Mist and you can’t stop me!” Blackavar said braver then he felt.
“Actually I can stop you. I could call the Black Rabbit and have him take you right now but I won’t do that. You are lucky your remaining kittens haven’t gotten killed with your idiocy! If I take you to see Mist will you relax and go back to Watership Down to rest?”
Prince Rainbow shook his head and sighed. “Alright but first these kittens are being returned home. They don’t need to see their marli in her condition.”
Prince Rainbow let a reddish orange light sweep around the kittens and set them down gently in Hazel and Hyzenthlay’s burrow where Fiver was waiting. “Kittens!” Fiver exclaimed checking them over. Hearing Fiver’s shout Bigwig and Hazel came back and saw the kittens in Hazel’s burrow.
“Blackavar has agreed to remain in Watership Down providing I take him to see Mist. He’ll be back in five minutes Fiver.”
“Thank you Prince Rainbow.”
Fiver turned and repeated the message to Hazel and Bigwig who sighed in relief. They escorted the kittens back to their burrow and Fiver stayed with them to watch over them until Blackavar came back.
Blackavar shut his eyes as Prince Rainbow picked Blackavar up by his neck and flew through the air to Sunstone. They passed through the magical barrier and Prince Rainbow set Blackavar on the grass. “You have five minutes with Mist. When those five minutes are up I will return you to Watership Down where you WILL STAY THERE!”
Blackavar nodded before heading to the entrance to Sunstone. He saw a strange circle of stones in the middle of the field and felt the ground and air around him vibrating softly. Fern looked up as he saw Prince Rainbow’s arrival with the scarred chocolate rabbit. He hopped up to Blackavar.
“Yes. Please I want to see Mist.”
Fern looked at Prince Rainbow who nodded. “Follow me.”
Fern led Blackavar to the eastern side of the warren and went down a run that led to Snowberry’s burrow. “Snowberry!” Fern called.
A golden rabbit poked her head out. “Snowberry isn’t here Captain Fern. What do you need?”
“This rabbit is the mate of Mist. He wants to see her and Prince Rainbow said it’s okay.”
The golden rabbit studied Blackavar and nodded. “Be quick about it Blackavar. Mist needs to rest.”
“Thank you umm…”
“Enya. I’m Snowberry’s apprentice healer.”
“Thank you Enya,” Blackavar said as he stepped past her and into the burrow. He saw Mist lying on a bed of grass and ran over to her.
“Blackavar!” Mist cried seeing her mate before her. “What… how did you get here?”
“Prince Rainbow brought me here. I took our kittens and left Watership Down in an attempt to find you. I had to make sure you were okay.”
“You did what?!” Mist screamed sitting up suddenly causing her to cry out as pain shot through her body. Enya came over and glared at Blackavar before gently pushing Mist back down on the bed. “How could you be so foolish Blackavar as to take our kittens out of Watership Down?! If I wasn’t injured I’d kill you myself!”
Blackavar hung his head and shuffled his front paws. “I know it was stupid. But they wanted to see you. Besides they are fine. Prince Rainbow transported them back to Watership Down.”
“What if they had been attacked by elil or that rabbit Blizzard. I’ve already lost Thorn. I won’t lose another of my kittens because my mate is so in love with me that he risks his children’s safety. I thought you knew better than that Blackavar. You’re an Owsla Officer! You KNOW how dangerous it is right now with some mad rabbit running loose. And this rabbit is worse than Woundwort ever was!”
Fern snickered behind a paw as he watched the Watership couple fight with each other. Enya shot him a look and turned back to Blackavar. “That’s enough Blackavar. Mist will never get better unless you let her rest. And she won’t get better if you do stupid stuff that risks your life and the lives of your kittens. Return to Watership Down and stay there.”
Fern approached at Enya’s words and took a meek Blackavar back out the burrow and through the warren before coming above ground near the main entrance. He left Blackavar with Prince Rainbow and went to check on Lightstone-rah and Harmony.
“Well are you satisfied Blackavar?”
“She’s still hurt. Will her wounds heal?”
“Between the magic that lies around and in Sunstone and Snowberry and Enya’s healing skills I think she will. However I’m not sure if she will be permanently scarred or not.”
“Will that rabbit get her?”
“No. I’m afraid I still haven’t found out anything about the powers that Blizzard has acquired. Come on I’ll take you back to Watership Down. You will stay there won’t you?” He asked turning to glare at the black buck.
Prince Rainbow suddenly smiled. “I think we’ll go by the river that runs fifteen yards away from Sunstone. You may be interested in how you look.”
“What do you mean how I look?”
Prince Rainbow just smiled and led Blackavar to the river where the Sunstone rabbits drank. “Look in the water Blackavar,” Prince Rainbow said gently.
Blackavar looked and was shocked at what he saw. His scars had completely disappeared from his body. His ears were no longer torn to shreds but back in their correct position above his head. There was a silver streak of fur between his ears that went down to stopped just before it hit his nose and his fur was jet black where before he had been light chocolate. His eyes had also changed to neon green.
“These are the effects of being in Sunstone even for as short a period of time as you were. These changes will also gradually take over the rabbits of Sunstone for the better and change their eyes and fur color into shades different from normal rabbits.”
“Will it harm them?”
“No and it won’t harm you. Don’t be surprised if Mist comes back different than what she is right now. Now I’ll take you home to Watership Down.”
“You know you were right,” Blackavar said looking down as Prince Rainbow set him down on the bottom of the hill that led to Watership Down.
“Mist gave me the scolding of my life.”
Prince Rainbow laughed as he vanished leaving Blackavar to climb the hill alone.
“NOOO! Marli! Parli! Help me!” Thorn screamed, his voice suddenly cutting off as the black cloud crackling with lightning surrounded him. Blizzard fed more of his power into the cloud and watched as Thorn was covered and blocked from view by the cloud.
The black cloud dissipated before floating back into Blizzard’s body. Thorn’s fur and eyes had changed. His fur had darkened to vivid burgundy except for silver streaks along his body and his eyes had changed to violet with star pupils. The newly changed Thorn looked at Blizzard and hopped over to him. “Parli,” the kitten said curling up beside Blizzard on the nest of grass and fur.
“Welcome to the world little Thanatos.”